In May 1997, I should have been on a high: I’d just graduated college and earned my commission in the United States Marine Corps. Though the moments around these two events were special and celebratory, once the pictures were taken and the festivities died down, inside I was in knots. I was saying goodbye to a life I’d grown to love, including a boyfriend who meant the world to me.*
Yes, my future was promising: I was headed to Quantico, VA for six months. After that? Who knew?! I should’ve only felt excitement in anticipation of this adventure. But this wouldn’t be the first time in life where how I felt, and how I “should’ve felt,” were misaligned.
Sometimes even “good change” can be challenging.
On the days before I left for Quantico, I made a trek to North Hall on the University of Michigan’s campus – the NROTC building – to pick up some papers prior to my departure. On my way out, I heard a “Hey, Lt Judge,” from someone behind me. I turned around and saw the Army’s ROTC program commander – a Major. For the life of me, I can’t remember his last name. I didn’t really know him but in passing. But what he said to me? I’ll never forget it. He changed my perspective entirely.
“Lieutenant, I’ve been watching you these past four years. You went from an uncertain Midshipman to a confident Marine Corps Officer. Congratulations. My daughter is entering into ROTC. I hope she turns out like you.”
I was stunned to hear this from, essentially, a stranger. This random insight turned into a powerful moment of self-awareness and pride for me, something that I’ve carried with me throughout my life. I walked away feeling calm knowing everything turned out great despite my uncertainty and humbled that I earned the respect of someone in his position.
How many times do we need to hear this type of story? Random stranger provides insight to someone that changes their perspective, which has the potential to change their life.
Friends … We can be that stranger.
We can be that someone for someone else who shares our insight into their unique gifts, strengths, talents, and contributions that they might not know or have an appreciation for. You can shift someone’s perspective on any random day and help them see themselves in new, refreshed ways that lift their spirits and give them hope.
We’re in the holiday season. The lights! The decorations! The gifts!
In the spirit of the giving season, I’ve got a little social challenge for you. As you know, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. What if we each made a conscious choice to provide a supportive comment on someone’s LinkedIn post each day this week? The more comments, the better.
- @Cindy, thank you for sharing this post. I appreciate how you always provide thoughtful content.
- @Michael, your leadership has meant the world to me. I value how you always find the good in a situation.
- @Maria, I’ve always been impressed by how you’ve developed your career. You’re an inspiration to so many.
As someone who strives to lead by example, you can count on the fact that I’ll be doing this, too!
Reach out to your network and make their day brighter with words of support. Tell them the reasons they are great and what you see as extraordinary about them. Use the hashtag: #SparksOfSupport so we can all reflect on how a small comment can grow into a larger impact!
Intentional, positive feedback has the power to illuminate to someone ways that they add value to this world. Let’s not be stingy with our appreciation and respect for others. They need to hear from us! Who knows what your insight can do?
Good luck with the challenge! Let me know how it goes.
*Re my college boyfriend: I’m kind of glad I didn’t know at the time I’d marry him 20+ years later. That would’ve been agonizing.